FILM REVIEW Berberian Sound Studio
Berberian Sound Studio
Director: Peter Strickland
Stars: Toby Jones , Tonia Sotiropoulou
Review by Dan Berlinka/@danberlinka
In the 1970s, a British sound engineer is hired to work on an Italian horror movie, but his experience turns progressively more nightmarish …
Peter Strickland’s already much lauded mix of psychodrama and cult film homage is likely to divide audiences, between those that dig the references and the meta-musings and those who prefer, you know, a story and stuff. The photography, sound design and cast (with a haunting lead performance from Toby Jones) all combine to create an unsettling atmosphere of creeping dread, but the film fails to capitalise on its most effective elements and leaves them adrift without much discernible plot. It’s a shame, because it’s such a great premise and one that is worthy of a coherent and engaging narrative. Instead we get arthouse ambiguity surrounding what is real and what isn’t, which ends up feeling lazy rather than challenging. Fans of 70s giallo will certainly enjoy the setting (and the brilliantly pastiched title sequence to the film within the film) and it will probably appeal to Lost Highway / Mulholland Drive era David Lynch admirers; but anyone looking for a more straight-forwardly gripping horror-thriller may well find the pacing too slow and the overall experience more frustrating than compelling.